PART 16: the pull of the moon.
September 28th 85: 23:00
To Moony’s regret, Sirius had been gone most of the day, due to Dumbledore’s machinations. For obvious reasons the old man didn’t want Sirius to take his place on the Wizengamot. The deliberations had begun that morning, and would conclude the next day. As such, the council had been sequestered.
At nine that evening, Remus and Harry descended to the Book cave, where Harry donned his impressive armor.
Ready, he unlocked the little room at the side of the hangar.
Harry stood there as Remus stripped off his clothing. The werewolf looked up in embarrassment, and said: “Erm…I don’t want them damaged.”
“Understandable.” Harry replied with a grin. He waited until Remus had placed the clothing on a maintenance cart outside the little room, before closing the door behind them.
“Harry…” Remus began. Despite Harry’s insistence he could do no harm, he was still worried frantic that Moony would bite his cub.
“Remus, you’d more likely chip a tooth. Besides, I have some special tools I can employ to prevent injury. Now, come over here so I can set up this IV.”
Harry’s command presence reminded Remus that he was not, and never would be, the alpha. Neither was Padfoot, for that matter. Until Lily had come along, James had been the alpha. After that it was…odd. He and Sirius had been betas, and Wormtail was most definitely the gamma.
He obediently walked toward his young friend.
Harry strapped a medical cuff around Remus’ arm, sealed it to his skin, and programmed it to take the required blood samples. The first of course had already been taken. All Harry had to do was observe. Remus didn’t know that, of course, or he would have insisted Harry leave and let the automatics do their jobs. He donned his gauntlets and sealed them to the suit.
They chatted for a time about this and that, until, Remus’ voice suddenly grew tight. “It’s time!”
Harry immediately lifted his helmet over his head and latched it into place. Automatics in the armor sealed it tightly, and ensured Harry had the appropriate breathing mix and temperature controls. Icons lit on his face screen telling him of his armor’s status. A silent command and the heavy bolts within the door slid into their sockets. Now, nothing less than a tonne of TNT would breach the door.
As soon as he saw Remus’ face begin to grow into a snout, he touched a control plate on his forearm and the needle in the medical cuff drove itself into the werewolf’s arm.
Remus yelped at the sting, then seeing the armored figure before him, growled a challenge. Another touch of a control by the figure and Moony felt himself being held…gently like a mother would her child, but he could not escape.
Moony felt his blood being drawn into the cuff. He howled in surprise as saline was pushed through the needle to cleanse the tube between drawings.
Two minutes later, the needle began to draw again. Now fully a werewolf, Moony tried to pull the cuff away, to no avail. He couldn’t move. He glared murder at the armoured human in the cell with him, and the second Harry released the confinement field, he flung himself savagely at the intruder.
Remus fought for control, but without any mediating influence, such as the experimental Wolfsbane potion, Moony held sway, and this upstart had to be taught his place in the pack!
Unfortunately, what Moony didn’t know, was that ‘the upstart’ already knew his place.
Moony flew across the room and bounced from the diamond shell without making a scratch. The impact didn’t move the armored Harry one centimeter.
Instead, he turned and leaned against the wall, then slid down into a seated position. Joints locked him into that position until he cancelled the order, and magi-gravimetric clamps engaged, anchoring him to the wall. Now he was as much part of the structure as the metal that surrounded him. With a mental command, a holographic display formed in front of him. The images began moving as whatever drama Harry was watching, played out. Moony could hear familiar music playing.
This was intolerable! This…this…this disrespectful…creature was ignoring him!
Moony struck and struck again, rebounding from the armor each time with no discernable damage to the shell. For six long hours he kept it up, until he finally fell to the concrete floor, panting in exhaustion. Harry shut down the hologramme, released his clamps and sat beside him the exhausted werewolf, then pulled Moony’s head into his lap, stroking the werewolf’s fur with gauntleted fingers that were surprisingly gentle.
“You see, Moony.” Harry whispered. “You can’t get through. I’m perfectly safe in here with you. Next month, we’ll go romp in the forbidden forest, and I’ll show you one of my animagus forms, Howzzat?”
Moony whinged then, his amber eyes sad, and yet, filled with hope.
At dawn, Harry managed to sneak another two blood samples. One just before the transformation and a second during.
When he’d returned to his human form, Remus shot Harry a puzzled look. “I though you were only gonna take two!”
“I lied.” Harry unlatched the cuff and removed it and it’s four vials of blood. “I need to get these to ‘Mione straight away.”
“I’m gonna spank you!”
“Not bloody likely, Moonster.”
“Moonster?” came a welcome voice from the intercom set in the doorframe. Sirius was peeking through the heavy window and laughing his arse off.
“Sirius!” Remus cried. “You’re back!”
“Obviously!” Sirius snarked. “Dumbledore tried to convince the council I was too unstable to take my place, but given what he’s done over the past few years, not many people are willing to listen to him.”
“How are you doing, old man?” Harry added as he turned toward the Marauder. Sirius grimaced.
“Oi! Don’t call me old!
“But you gotta be at least like…thirty!” Harry made his voice shudder theatrically. A command from him and the door unlocked. He pushed through and headed toward a shower stall in the corner of the book cave. There, he activated the automatic controls and a shower of scalding steam descended on him. Detergent and antibiotic sprays struck him from all sides while little remote brushes whirled around him, scrubbing his armor clean of any possible contamination.
Five minutes later he was done.
Sirius reached him first, and incautiously gripped him by the shoulder. He cried out in pain and drew back a badly burnt and blistered hand.
“Shite! Sorry, Padfoot. I forgot to warn you. The steam is around nine hundred degrees Celsius. It’s meant to kill anything the detergents don’t. Not to worry, though. Follow me and ‘Mione will fix you right up.” He took his precious burden and walked up the ramp to the My Little.
Cradling his burnt hand, Sirius followed, and a minute later, the now-dressed Remus.
Harry and Sirius were just entering the medical bay when he found them. Harry immediately turned to place the samples into the analyzer and began to tap in orders.
“Hello, Sirius.” ‘Mione greeted. Then to Harry. “You forgot to tell him about the disinfectant steam, didn’t you?”
“Yup.” Harry, distracted by what he was doing, muttered: “Would you be so kind as to amputate his hand and replace it with a cybernetic implant. A hook would be nice. No, wait! A spatula! Maybe I can teach him to cook.”
“No!” ‘Mione snickered. “Sirius, come over here!” The bed glowed brightly for a second.
Sirius nervously stepped over to the bed, half expecting a wicked looking knife to drop from the ceiling and lop off his hand.
He instantly plunked himself down onto the medical bed. A tray of bluish gel floated out from a storage slot and hovered before him. “Put your hand in this. It’ll ease the burn while I prepare the regeneration probe.”
“Why does that word make me nervous?” Sirius whispered to Remus.
“Because you’re a pervert, pervert.” ‘Mione answered in a snarky tone. “Put your hand into the gel!”
Remus snickered, and Harry laughed.
“Laugh it up, funnyboy!” Mione chided. “You have a complete physical coming due. Since I’m the only one qualified to perform it, guess where you’ll be?”
“Not here! I’m no longer a thousand years old. I’ve regressed in age to five, and my magic has repaired all the damage the Dursleys caused me. I won’t need a physical for at least a decade!”
“I can arrange it so you need one tonight!”
Remus laughed at the byplay while Sirius sighed in relief as the gel took away the pain of his burnt hand. Both made a point to remember the words ‘…and my magic has repaired all the damage the Dursleys caused me.’ They’d have to ask Harry about that…later.
Sept 29th 85: 15:00
That afternoon, Remus had awakened and was sitting on the veranda sipping some tea and watching the birds fly past. Harry walked onto the porch and sat. “Well, ‘Mione says you’re healthy enough.”
“For someone with an incurable and eventually fatal disease, yeah. On that mark, she says she might need another blood sample at some time in the future, but she’s pretty sure she has enough now. The disease targets specific genomes in your DNA. It’s unusual, that; diseases are not normally so precise. It targets only that specific code strand, but targets them all at the same time. That has to be the lunar influence. Honestly, I don’t think there is a cure, per se. All we can hope for is a way to interrupt the process, and that, my furry uncle, is possible.”
“It is. There was something about seven hundred years ago…well, about three hundred years from now, that is, called Dowar’s Syndrome. It came from Capella four. The first known victim was named Emily Dowar. She was the first officer of a deep space-stroke-first contact mission to the Capella system.
It caused us no end of trouble until a particularly brainy young lady discovered how it worked. Funny enough, it was her studies on lycanthropy that clued her in to a possible treatment. Like lycanthropy, it infected the DNA. Like lycanthropy, it forced the system to alter itself to accommodate it. And like Lycanthropy, it was invariably fatal. Usually within a couple of years. Unlike lycanthropy, the vector was airborne rather than saliva/blood transfer. The next victims were her entire crew. Fifty six of our finest men and women were infected with Earth’s first truly alien disease. They reported the signs before they returned to Sol system, and we isolated them in a research station in an L-5 orbit. When it became too much they went mad. They either killed themselves, or killed each other. The last of them were killed and their bodies were immolated. The station was sent into the sun to prevent the infection from spreading to the rest of the system.
Unfortunately, atmospheric samples were overlooked. They were sent to other stations for analysis. By the time that mistake was discovered, it was too late. Six other L-4 and 5 stations had been infected. Fortunately at the time, Earth-gov had a standing quarantine of six months in place for all returning space crews. Fourty seven hundred people died before we discovered what had happened. Those research stations became floating morgues. My young friend had worked out an initial treatment, but the Earth-Gov refused to allow her to try it. They said it was far too dangerous to experiment with. Stubborn fool snuck onboard one of those stations and purposely got herself infected, and began to treat the symptoms. It cost her, her life. In the time she had, she proved that her treatment worked. She remained sane for the entire time. I was speaking to her when she died. She was thirty two.” Harry finished sadly.
“A friend of yours?”
“One of my adopted children. Her name was Anna-Rose Gresham Potter. Her parents were killed in a flitter-crash when she was three months old. I petitioned for custody and as she had no other relatives, got her a couple months later. When she died, they named seven high level research facilities and twenty three schools after her.” Harry blinked back painful tears.
“Oh, Harry!” Remus wrapped his arms around his young/old friend. “I’m so sorry!”
“Yeah. So was I.” Harry whispered in a husky voice. Then he sighed; “On the bright side, her research and the proven initial treatment, paved the way for a permanent treatment about fifty years later. I funded the research. It’s called AR-1, in her honor, and it has saved thousands of lives. It doesn’t eliminate the disease, but it interrupts it’s progress so it can’t force the changes. They’ve even used it to treat the disease on Capella four. Unfortunately the disease is part of the planet’s eco-system so we can’t just eradicate it there. That whole system is under the strictest quarantine, though. I understand that by the time I died, they’d developed what they thought was a viable cure, but I never got the details. It was so classified it was never put on the info-net.”
Sept 29th 85: 17:00 PM:
At dinner, Remus brought up what he thought would be a tender subject.
“Harry…” He paused. “Erm, this morning you mentioned the Dursleys causing you some damage. What kind of damage?”
“Does it really matter?” Harry took a bite of his lamb. “They’re gone and I’m here.”
“Harry.” Now it was Sirius being…serious. “What did you do to them?”
“Yeah, Harry. The reports said there was a huge flash of light and now, there’s nothing but a hole in the ground.
“Not anymore. Since Number four belonged to my mother, I took control of it. The house is being rebuilt even now. I think I’ll let it out to some family or other.”
“That doesn’t answer the question, Harry. What did you do to the Dursleys? For that matter, where’s the house?”
Harry sighed, and set his fork down. “The house is in orbit around Mars. As for the Dursleys, Petunia is an alpaca at the London zoo. Vernon is a manatee at Sea-World in San Diego and Dudley is a baby again, in an orphanage in Queensland.”
Sirius fell off his chair laughing. Remus tried to look disapproving, but somehow, he just couldn’t manage it.
PART 17: MAKING A FRIEND
October first, 1985. 7:05AM
Harry was getting dressed when Remus knocked. “Harry! It’s almost time to go!” Poking his head in, he saw Harry donning a silvery…thing.
He paused and stared at the contraption. “What’s all this, then?”
“Camouflage.” Harry returned with a smile. “Since the word’s been passed that little Harry Potter was crushed by a tree, I’ll be expected to have some broken bones. I convinced the school’s administrative staff that Sirius was a genius and worked for the American space programme, before returning here to care for his poor orphaned godchild.”
“So you lied.” Remus snarked.
“Precisely!” Harry shot back. “Anyway, this is a variation of the exoskeletons used on heavy gravity worlds. When they see this, they’ll buy the story, whole cloth.”
Breakfast followed with Remus and Harry both snickering at the irritated, wet, frozen, and blanket-covered Sirius. He’d never been a morning person. He sat there with badly rumpled hair and a sulky look on his unshaved face.
“Awww! Don’t be like that, Padfoot!” Harry cajoled as he stood to go. Giving the snarly man a warm hug he added: “You had to get out of bed anyway. You have work today.”
“That doesn’t mean you had to go and dump a ton of half-melted snow on me!” The black haired Marauder snarled.
“It worked, didn’t it? And it was only five hundred pounds.”
“Just you wait, Harry Potter! I wasn’t the greatest of the Marauders for nothing!”
Remus objected with: “I thought I was the greatest of the Marauders!” just as Harry began to sing in a deplorable cockney accent: “Just you wait, ‘Arry Potter, just you wait, you’ll be sorry, but your tears will be too late! You’ll be pranked an’ I’ll be sunny, will I ‘elp you, don’ be funny. Oh ho ho, ‘Arry Potter, just you wait…” as he danced out of the room just in time to avoid the stack of toast Sirius flung at him.
1 Oct 85: 7:55AM
Six-year-old Hermione Granger was crying…again. The other kids were as cruel to her as they’d always been. Bookworm…Bushy-haired beaver teeth…Horsey-face…Affected prig! These were terms she’d become well familiar with, even after only one year in primary. Now she wept, crumpled on the hard dirt of the play-yard, and stared at the pathetic remains of her class project, torn to shreds by the petty, stupid, dumb-kids!
She’d worked so hard on the presentation, and now, it was ruined!
A slight hiss alerted her to the presence of another. A boy she didn’t know, squatted by her side and began to pick up pieces of her project. He wore some kind of metallic brace with thin cylinders along its sides, on his left arm that went up under his shirt. She could see his legs were similarly encumbered.
He placed them in a neat little pile and wafted his hand over them. Suddenly the miniature Saxon motte-and-bailey castle began to reassemble itself!
“Wha…” She gasped. “How…? How did you do that?”
The black haired boy grinned at her and whispered: “Magic.”
He had the prettiest green eyes she’d ever seen. Bright and lively, and they sparkled with mischief.
He took her hands in his and closed his eyes. A slight burn and her scraped hands were healed. Touches to her knees and other spots resulted in the same thing. Her injuries vanished instantly!
With a faint hiss of hydraulics, he stood and helped her up, and with a final wave, her favorite green pinafore, and the hand-knit white cardigan her grandmother had made for her, were clean and dry, and her face was free from tearstains.
“Thank you!” She gushed, as she wrapped him in a crushing hug. “Thank you so much! I’m Hermione Granger, by the way.” She paused, feeling the metal braces on his back.
“What’re you wearing?”
The boy turned those beautiful eyes on her and said: “Harry Potter…and this is a brace to help me recover from some rather serious injuries.”
Hermione gasped and held her fingertips to her mouth. “Oh, I’m sorry!”
“Don’t worry about it. That part of my life is done.” He reassured her as he picked up her little castle and carried it to the school building. As they ascended the steps, he handed the project to her. “Here, you’d better carry this. You don’t want me to take credit for your hard work, now do you? ”
“Thank you.” She blushed, and accepted the diorama.
Inside, a half dozen children waited with gleeful cruelty on their faces. They all gasped in shock as the swotty bookworm walked in…carrying a perfect miniature castle!
With her, was a black haired boy wearing loose clothing. He made eye contact with each and every one of the guilty children, as if to say: “I know what you’ve done!”
They all found themselves unable to meet those withering eyes.
Hermione led him to the desk she normally used. It was by the large window in the second row. The seat beside her was empty. Harry pulled back her chair for her to seat herself, and then took his place beside her. Knowing that he meant to stay, Hermione grinned brightly.
The bell rang and the other children, deprived of their usual entertainment, shuffled to their seats.
Their teacher, Mrs. Morrison stood behind her large desk and began to take the roll. When she’d finished, she called out. “Class! We have a new student. Harry Potter!”
All eyes turned to him, and Harry had to force himself to not flush at the attention.
“Harry? Mrs. Morrison continued. “Would you please come up here, and tell us about yourself?”
Reluctantly, Harry stood and walked to the front of the classroom, the faint hiss of hydraulics accompanying his every step. He turned to face the class and began his carefully prepared spiel.
“I’m five years old. My parents died in a terrorist attack in 1981, and I was sent to live with child abusers. Their house blew up, during a lightning storm this summer, but I survived ‘cause they’d chained me to a tree in the back garden. The tree fell on me though. That wasn’t much fun. I was in hospital for almost three months, but I live with my godfather now and I’m much happier.”
“I’m so sorry!” Mrs. Morrison gasped. She was appalled that anybody would chain a child outside like a…like a dog!
“I’m not!” He exclaimed happily. “With Sirius, I get to eat every day!”
That innocent statement shocked them all, child and teacher alike, but Harry, seemingly unheedful, rattled on. His well rehearsed tale, delivered with the perfect blend of childish excitement and relief. “An’ he doesn’t hit me with a belt, an’ I get a real bed, an’ a birthday, an’ clothes that fit an’ he doesn’t make me do all the chores or shingle the roof or paint the shed or build a rock wall around the garden or…”
“Harry!” She interrupted, hoping these people were burning in hell for what they’d done to this sweet little boy.
Harry stopped his chatter and looked up at her with bright green eyes. She felt herself melt. This one was going to be quite the catch for some lucky girl, and from what she’d seen moments before, she could thought it likely that little Hermione might well be that girl!
Harry smirked inwardly, thinking: ~And this year’s BAFTA, for best leading actor in a social drama…~
“What do you think is most important in life?”
“Family! Family should always come first. Take care of your family and you can take care of your neighbors, take care of your neighbors and you can take care of the world.”
“And what philosophy do you prefer?”
“I’ve thought about that a lot while I was in hospital. The Dursleys treated me like a slave and I hated it, so I think it’s best to try to treat other people they way I’d like to be treated. I think the Buddhists have the right of it. Cause and effect, is the strictest law in the universe!” He swung his eyes toward the class as he said that, making contact with each and every one of those who had dared to hurt his Hermione.
Confused by the segue; Mrs. Morrison thanked him for the information.
Harry returned to his seat, his carefully phrased threat leaving those students who’d destroyed Hermione’s project, feeling very nervous.
Harry found the instruction ridiculously easy, given that he’d taught the same things to his adopted children many times over the past thousand years. He carefully kept his achievements at the level they’d expect, which placed him on a par with Hermione.
As they were sitting to lunch, one little girl who introduced herself as Sarah Jackson, asked: “What’s that you’re wearing?” There was no malice in her question, only interest.
“Well, since I was crushed under a tree, my back was hurt and my arm and both legs were broken pretty badly. This is something Sirius invented for the American space programme. He calls it a ‘ex-co-skeleton’. It helps me to walk until my bones are stronger.”
“And your arm?”
“Can I see it?”
Harry was instantly flustered. She wasn’t interested in embarrassing him, but rather, had a real fascination with prosthetics.
“Erm…OK, but I’m not dropping my trousers!” Sarah giggled and Hermione choked on her milk.
“Harry!” She squealed, swatting him. “You made it come out my nose!” She picked up a napkin to blot her face.
Harry unbuttoned his shirt and asked Hermione to help him take it off. Under the loose shirt was another padded one, overlain by a peculiar, almost organic-looking silvery brace. It emerged from the back of his trousers, as a wide and flexible column made of overlapping plates, that reached his upper shoulders just below the neck. There were wide, and yet, comfortable looking belts wrapping around his body to clasp into another flexible-looking sliver pad on his chest, with another over each shoulder. A ‘Y’ shaped frame originating from several places on the ‘column’ and four more from the chest plate, joined at the shoulders where both had identical attachment points, but only the left was encumbered with a three axis ring joint and hydraulic tubes down the left arm.
The splint on the arm itself was less amazing, as the design had been studied from the very beginning of functional prosthetics. It surrounded the arm to the wrist and had two ring-joints for upper and lower arm rotation, and a bending joint at the elbow.
The students who’d been watching all oohed and aahed, in fascination. Harry grinned. “It’s too bad I’ll only be in this for a short while, or I’d have it all tricked out. Y’know, AM/FM, stereo cassette deck with Dolby surround sound, a LAN-jack to hook up my comp, blue flames going up the legs, and lasers in the wrist.”
How about a milk and biscuits dispenser too!” Somebody snarked.
Instead of being offended, Harry grinned and yelled out: “Hey, there’s an idea!” Then he looked down at the visible portions, and spread his hands. “But where would I put it?”
One of the monitors was watching the display and like Sarah, found the prosthetic impressive, to say the least.
PART 18: INTRO TO MAGIC 101
Oct 1st 85: 13:30
Judith Granger had just arrived home from the surgery when a tall and rakishly handsome man approached. Unconsciously she fingered the tiny can of mace Mack insisted she carry. He black hired man stopped at the gate, but made no attempt to open it.
“Hello.” He called. “I’m Sirius Black. My godson, my best friend and I, just moved in next door.”
“Oh!” Judith flushed a bit. “Forgive me. I wasn’t expecting company.”
“That’s quite all right. I just wanted to say hello, and let you know there was someone living next to you.”
“Why thank you, Mister Black. Perhaps one day you can come over for dinner.”
“That would be lovely. We’ll have to set a date. Unfortunately with my schedule, time is always difficult to find.”
“I know what you mean. My husband and I are both dentists…actually, I’m a general practitioner and pediatric orthodontist and Mack is a general dentist as well as being an oral surgeon and endodontist.”
At Sirius’ blank look, she added: “I perform general dentistry, some cosmetic work and fit children with braces, and he does the general work as well, but also performs surgery and other, more in-depth treatments”
The lights came on as Sirius recognized the term, and recalled the full-body braces Harry was wearing as camouflage. If he could use them, it was reasonable to suppose other children would need them too.
He bade her a pleasant good-bye and strode down the lane to the last house on the street.
October. 1st 15:30
When Harry returned from school that day, Sirius had a surprise waiting. Next to him was a house elf, Harry didn’t recognize.
“Young master Harry is alive!” She squealed happily, making them all wince.
When Harry had recovered from the sonic assault on his eardrums, he said; “Erm…hello. What’s your name?”
“Harry, this is Moppet. She was the Potter house-elf before your parents were murdered. She helped me recover after my time in Azkaban, but she’s been staying with Amelia and Susan Bones.”
“Oh, Yeah. I remember Susan. Hufflepuff. Went on to become minister for three terms.”
“Missy Suzy s only being five years old.” Moppet was clearly confused by Harry’s past tenses.
“Moppet, did Sirius tell you how old I am?”
“Master Sirius has told Moppet you is being five as well, but at the same time you is being muchly older.”
“Moppet, I am over a thousand years old. If you’d like, I can explain the details. For now, suffice it to say I’ve come back in time to set things straight, and my memories are of things that haven’t yet happened.”
“And Missy Suzy will be Minister for Magic?”
“Mmmhmmm. From 2024 to 2065.” He replied. “She was considered to be one of the most forward-thinking ministers of all time.”
“Moppet understands. Missy Suzy is like that already. Moppet thinks that Missy Suzy will go far.”
“Yes, she will.” Harry smiled, then added; “On another note, Moppet, were you bonded to my parents, or were you free?”
“Moppet was a properly bonded elf, Master Harry.” The little elf declared, almost daring him to say another word. So naturally, he did.
“I understand the reason behind the house-elf bond, but I met an elf, about seven years from now, who was a very good friend to me. His name was Dobby. He always wanted to be a free elf. He died in 1998, saving my life.”
“Moppet knows of Dobby. He is thought to be…touched in the head, but is a good elf anyway.”
“Yes, he is…to both.”
Harry stood as tall as he could. “Moppet, while you were the Potter elf, would you consider taking my bond?”
“Moppet answered with glistening eyes. “Moppet would be most honored to take Harry Potter’s bond.”
A bright blue aura surrounded them both as Harry intoned: “Moppet, I, Harrison James Potter, do hereby take you onto my family. I expect you to serve me faithfully and keep my secrets. In return I share of my magicks, and will provide you with a safe place to live, and a reason for being.”
They both chimed; “So mote it be!” and the blue glow became white, before vanishing entirely.
Both Remus and Sirius gaped. Sirius because Harry knew the ancient bonding ritual, and Remus, because he hated the idea of anyone being enslaved, even a benevolent enslavement.
Harry gave his first orders. “Moppet, there will be no punishing yourself. If you feel you have done something that merits punishment, you will come to me and we will discuss it, understand?”
“Oh yes, Master Harry Potter Sir.”
“That’s the second thing. I intensely dislike the connotations of the word ‘master’ especially when used from one person to another. When in private, you will refer to us as Remus, Sirius and Harry…”
Moppet began to object, but Harry cut her off. “That’s how I want it. When in certain surroundings, yes, you will have to be more formal, but even then, you can call us Mister…except for Sirius. Him, you can call…Snuffles.”
“Sirius, you invented the name.”
“Actually, no, Harry.” Remus chuckled. “Your mother did. She said he was always snuffling about as Padfoot…and it just stuck.”
“Well I know there had to be a reasonable explanation for such a silly name. Anyway, Moppet, in public you will call us by Mister followed by our names.”
“Moppet will do.” Moppet didn’t seem all to thrilled, but Harry was the master. She would follow his orders.
“Next, you will wear a uniform that shows your pride in houses Potter and Gryffindor. It needn’t be ornate, but it will be a uniform…no tea towels or pillowcases!”
“Mistress Lily insisted on the same thing. Moppet can do, but Moppet must make the…uniform, for herself.”
“Good. Let me know what you want for materials and the like and I’ll see to it you get them. Now, lastly, I want you to have a room of your own, and a proper bed…no cupboards. There’s a nice little pantry in the kitchen that should be just right for you. Why not give that a look over?”
Moppet nodded her head rapidly and then vanished to see to her new accommodations.
Behind her, trouble was brewing.
“Harry?” Remus ventured. From his tone, Harry knew he was upset. “Why would you enslave another thinking being?”
Harry instantly thought; ~How very much like Hermione he is!~
He decided to nip the idea of S.P.E.W. in the bud.
“Moony, what do you know about the house-elf bond?”
“It’s slavery. What more is there to know?” Remus shot back.
“Quite a bit, actually. There’s a book that explains the house-elf bond, though it does use some rather uncomplimentary terms to describe them. It was written by Centaurus Black. Sirius, would you go to number twelve and pick up the book in the library on House-elf bonds. It’s on the third shelf, right-hand side, about halfway down.”
“Erm…Harry, I’d as soon as never enter that place again. Besides, there’s an vindictive old harpy and an insane Kreacher there.”
“You don’t have to worry about them. I have it on good authority that Mrs. Walburga Black has shuffled off this mortal coil, and Kreacher is hanging on the wall. It’s perfectly safe.”
“And just how do you know this…?” Remus asked, his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
Harry smirked and replied mysteriously. “Ask me no questions, I’ll tell you no lies…”
Sirius apparated to his ancestral home for the first time since he was sixteen. Placing his hand on the doorknob, he named himself and announced that as head of the noble and most ancient house of Black, he was taking possession of the house and everything within.
He pushed the door open and stepped in, to find it…if not in good condition, at least in better condition than he’d expected. Sure enough, there was a pile of letters of condolence on the table …mostly from people Sirius never wanted to see again, and Kreacher’s head hung on the wall next to the stairs.
With a disgusted shake of his head, Sirius ascended the steps to the second floor and entered the library.
It was fortunate he had claimed dominion over the house. Before he’d hung himself on the wall, Kreacher had set up some rather nasty booby traps. It was only the house’s innate magic recognizing his claim that prevented a tragedy.
He found the book precisely where Harry had told him it would be. ~How did he know?~ he asked himself.
When he arrived at 34 Candyfloss court, he asked Harry the same thing, but the young/old boy only shook his head and said once more; “Ask me no questions…”
He handed the book to Remus and ordered him to read it through, and told him that when he’d finished, Moppet would answer any questions the Marauder asked.
Three hours later, Remus came out of the room shaken and pale. Harry was standing there when a tea service and a bottle of brandy appeared on the table next to him. Harry poured two cups, and added a shot of Brandy to Remus’.
“You knew?” The older man asked.
“Mmmhmmm.” Harry nodded his head and handed Remus the tea, suitably fortified with brandy. “We discovered the reason elves must bond in my sixth year. You should have seen Hermione. She was horrified at what she’d tried to do.”
“What did she try to do?” Sirius asked. He walked across the room and fixed himself a cuppa deftly taking the bottle from Harry. “You’re too young.”
“She tried to free all the Hogwarts house-elves. From our fourth through our sixth years, she was knitting hats for the elves to ‘find’, and free themselves.”
“Ooh!” Remus winced. “I’ll bet that didn’t go over well.”
“It did not.” Dobby told me the elves at school would refer to her as ‘the Dark Knitter’, and ‘She-Who-Must-Not-Knit’.’
Sirius barked out a laugh. “No!”
“Ep!” Harry grinned back. “Up until that minute, she was convinced the bond was slavery and the elves were being horribly mistreated….even the elves at Hogwarts. I took her to the kitchens once, to show her they were happy, but she jut got angry with me for condoning house-elf abuse and said they were undereducated and indoctrinated to the idea. Unfortunately her first and second impressions of house elves were my description of Dobby’s actions, and seeing Winky get sacked. Now, Dobby, as much as I love the little lunatic, is more than a few leaves short of a tree. And Winky reacted in typical house-elf fashion, when Crouch Sr. sacked her.
“How?’ Remus drew out the word.
“She wailed and screamed her lungs out, and then she got drunk…and managed to stay that way until I twisted her ears and made her take my bond.”
“You forced…?” Remus was horrified.
“Yes, I did, Remus.” Harry shot back fiercely. “I’ll not see a thinking being die without cause, if I can stop it!”
“Remus, do you think Moppet was handing you a line of fish? According to the bond we share, she’s been my family’s house elf for almost two hundred years. She’s seen four…five now, generations of Potters. She’s that age because she is bonded and happy. Winky had been without a proper bond for nearly four years by the time I lost my temper and bonded her. She would have lived only a few more. As it was, she stood beside me when we buried Hermione. Winky died about seventy years after that. She was three hundred ninety three years old.
“But Kreacher was only…” Sirius interjected.
“You have to remember, Sirius…” Harry cut him off. “Who was Kreacher bound to?”
“Mother.” The dark haired man nearly snarled.
“And your mother was both steeped in the dark arts and crazy as a fruit bat! Sirius, there has to be a component of consideration for the elf. Your mother saw Kreacher as nothing more than a semi-intelligent animal that could cook and clean. She despised him…and it showed. Kreacher was only a little older than you. If he’d had a proper bond, he would have lived for at least another two hundred fifty years. Instead, he was on his last legs when she died.”
Remus asked; “So a house-elf bond takes both parties into consideration?”
“Precisely. It’s not a parasitic relationship, but rather a symbiotic one. In fact the human benefit is the lesser of the two. The house elf is a willing, capable and motivated servant but in return, he or she is made more magically powerful by the bond. As such, he or she becomes healthier. That’s how it works.”
A/N: “Take care of your family and you can take care of your neighbors, take care of your neighbors and you can take care of the world.” and “Cause and effect, is the strictest law in the universe!” are both tenets of the Buddhist faith, specifically the Nicherin Daishonin sect I follow.
Kreacher’s booby traps: In CoS, Dobby warned Harry of the plot at Hogwarts, understanding that he’d have to punish himself for his perceived betrayal of the Malfoy family, and in OotP, Kreacher deliberately misinterpreted his orders to ‘get out’ as an invitation to betray Sirius. It stands to reason that the house-elves are far more independent than the owners suspect, so I feel he could have decided on his own to prevent anybody from entering or using the house.
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